Dec 26, 2014 12:03 AM

Comanche first out of Sydney Harbour in annual Hobart race

The Associated Press

SYDNEY (AP) American super maxi Comanche took the lead at the start line and was the first to leave Sydney Harbour in the annual Sydney to Hobart yacht race Friday.

Comanche, launched in October and being tested for the first time in tough ocean race conditions, held a slender lead over seven-time and defending champion Wild Oats XI.

They are two of five super maxis in the 117-yacht fleet that will sail down the New South Wales coast and across Bass Strait to the island state of Tasmania, a total of 628 nautical miles.

Comanche, skippered by former America's Cup yachtsman Ken Read, and the rest of the fleet were expected to face 30-knot southerly winds later Friday.

Wild Oats set the race record of 1 day, 18 hours, 23 minutes, 12 seconds in 2012.

The hi-tech American super maxi reached the first turning mark in only four minutes, 35 seconds, a 35-second edge over Wild Oats. Syd Fischer's Ragamuffin 100 was third and Anthony Bell's Perpetual Loyal fourth, both also super maxis.

The 87-year-old Fisher set a record the oldest skipper and oldest sailor of any rank to compete in the race which is being held for the 70th time.

Fischer is also making his 46th appearance in the race. The record in that category is held by Tony Cable, who is starting his 49th Hobart race this year.

"I don't get too overwhelmed about that, guys mention it, but it's froth and bubble," said Cable, who is aboard the 52-footer Duende this year.


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